Philip Dru Interviews
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|An Interview With John Taylor Gatto on The Weekend
Interview Show with Philip Dru, Administrator
September 6, 2003
Philip Dru: It's a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Austin, Texas. Welcome to The Weekend Interview Show. I'm your host, Philip Dru, Administrator. Our guest today is John Gatto. He's three times the New York City Teacher of the Year and also New York state Teacher of the Year, a recipient of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for contributions to the cause of liberty, and recently wrote the cover article of this month's September 2003 Harper's magazine, "Against School." He is the author of the books Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, The Exhausted School, A Different Kind of Teacher, and his latest, The Underground History of American Education, which you can read in its entirety, I believe, on johntaylorgatto.com. Welcome to the show, sir.
John Taylor Gatto: Well, pleasure to be down there in Austin again, where my son lives. So hello, Jeff.
PD: Well, good, I hope he's listening and maybe he got to hear that.
JTG: Also, it's my third favorite city in the country.
PD: Behind what?
JTG: Right after Chicago and Pittsburgh, I'll take Austin, thank you.
PD: Alright! Hey, that's pretty good. I've never been to Chicago or Pittsburgh, so I can't speak to those.
JTG: Well, you're missing something, but I'm gonna forgive you while we do this interview.
PD: Alright, that's cool. I'm still young. I've still got time to travel.
JTG: You've got time, and go to Chicago and Pittsburgh, in reverse order.
PD: Okay, so tell me, John, why would the Teacher of the Year, three times in a row in New York City, write a cover story for Harper's magazine called "Against School"?
JTG: Well, I taught for 30 years in the public schools of New York City, and I went to the public schools in western Pennsylvania around Pittsburgh for 12 years. So for 42 of my years on this planet I've been subject to schooling and its strictures, and so have many, many other people – virtually all of us. At some point during my teaching career, it dawned on me that the school was deliberately doing things that were contrary to the way people learn. So I said, No problem, I'll just make slight adjustments and we'll go on. Well, I had my head handed to me, as, I would say, thousands of teachers every year do, because the procedures are pretty much sacrosanct, regardless of whether they work or not. So that intrigued me so much that after I left the business on July 25, 1991 – on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal, by the way, I'll bet that's up on the internet – I said, I'm just gonna try to find out where this thing came from, why it took the shape it took, and how it's managed to resist every effort to change it for 100 years. What I discovered – slowly, incrementally – just made the hair stand up on my head. Suddenly, all the contradictions and stupidities made sense. It's not about education. It's a psychological conditioning laboratory, and it does a good job at what it sets out to do.
PD: Okay, well, I know that there are many teachers – probably all the teachers in this country – who would say that you're absolutely wrong, that their job has nothing to do with psychological conditioning, and How dare you say that. Let's see some proof.
JTG: Well, be fair, Philip. As a matter of fact, I hear daily from about ten people in the country – and probably half of them are teachers – and I have yet to find one that disagrees. They don't have the substantive knowledge, but they know they're involved in something creepy. They can't quite understand it, and the easiest way to deal with it is just to say that the school administrators are stupid. Which they are. But whether they were stupid or brainy wouldn't make the slightest difference. No one involved in the school business is given any sovereignty to change things – I mean, rhetorically, maybe, at parent's night. We're stuck with a system that's passed down, I guess, honorable people think, from the district superintendant. No, it isn't. Or, honorable people may think, from the state department of education. No, it isn't. Everyone in those particular bailiwicks is following orders. Orders from where? Not from the federal education department, I can tell you. Not from the teacher's union, I can tell you. But where?
PD: The Ford Foundation.
JTG: Well, the Ford Foundation is a major writer of orders for teachers in schools. But then, so is the Carnegie Foundation. So is the Rockefeller Foundation. The Exxon Foundation. And we probably could add ten more names to that list who you can trace the major developments in American schooling to. But how did that happen?
PD: How far back are we talking about – the major developments that we can trace to these guys?
JTG: Well, there are a set of time zones. The plan for this was in place before the American Civil War, but not the reality of it. The Civil War, in fact, was a necessary step to take to eliminate the competition, which was a different set of values that came out of the American South - a different idea of what a good life was composed of. The South had to be eliminated, and was, in the largest war to date that we've fought, if casualties are the measure. After the huge waves of immigration were underway in the 1870s, 1880s, 1890s and probably running up to the first world war, we then had an acceleration of efforts – orchestrated nationally and in Canada, as well – to bring about the type of schooling that had first appeared on this planet in Prussian Germany in the early 19th century. By 1820, Prussia had our form of schooling in place, and it had a novel fourth purpose for school in place. That is the purpose that obtains today in Austin or in St. Louis or in San Francisco. We don't follow what people think are the expectations for school. We have a different set of expectations.
PD: Okay, well, first of all, maybe you can lay down what most people's expectations for school are, and then maybe what the Prussian directives are.
JTG: Sure. There are three common traditional purposes for turning your kid over to strangers. Oddly enough, wherever I go in the world – and I travel constantly; I've done two million miles in the last ten years – if you sit down with someone over a beer or a cup of tea and you lay the three traditional purposes down, nobody blinks an eye and nobody thinks any of them are objectionable. The first purpose – and the oldest purpose of all – is to make good people. Now, call that the religious purpose, although you can go about that business in a secular fashion. So to make good people is the first purpose. The second purpose is to make good citizens. Oddly enough, probably except for Austin, nobody in Texas knows what a citizen is supposed to be. A citizen is someone who argues in the public forum, and argues skillfully, so that his or her voice is heard. They aren't people who pay their taxes and vote. They're people who bring their mind and the lessons of their experience to the public marketplace of ideas. That's what a citizen is. That's what he was in ancient Greece. That's what he was in ancient Rome. And that's what he ought to be, and was, in the United States when Alexis de Tocqueville was here writing Democracy In America. That's what a citizen was. The second purpose of schooling is to create good citizens, which they do, largely by teaching people how to speak and write skillfully and, also, how to read skillfully and argue with the writer. I've never seen a public school that teaches the active literacies of speaking and writing. I mean, they may go through the motions on writing, but the truth is that the well-known exercises to develop a facility in that are, somehow or another, persona non grata in public schools. So we have good people, we have good citizens, and then the third purpose, which is probably what most of us think the sole purpose of schooling is, comes about only when you have a wealthy country, a wealthy society. And that is to make people their personal best so that they can enjoy good lives. Those are the three traditional purposes. Those are what's either up front in people's minds or lurking in their subconscious. That's what they send their kids to school for. The fourth purpose, which was perfected in Prussian Germany in the first two or three decades of the 19th century, had nothing at all to do with any of those things. It was to create good, tractable human resources. Does that term sound familiar, Philip? Good human resources that could be efficiently managed either by the leaders of the economy or by the leaders of the government. So, purpose four was to create human resources. (I'm desperately trying to raise six or seven million [dollars], not from your listeners, to make a long documentary film called The Fourth Purpose. And we just got Lewis Lapham, the editor of Harper's, to agree in principle that he would make one of the segments of this film, so I'm optimistic.) What you have in Austin, Texas, are fourth purpose schools. They're about human resources, manageable people. Manageable people can't sustain independent thinking for very long. I mean, they have spasms in which they might shake their fist, but they can't sustain it. They've been trained to a short attention span by the bells and the buzzers and the horns of schooling and the injunctions of the classroom teacher. Your schools, as mine were, are psychological conditioning laboratories. And they've been operating that way for just about 100 years.
PD: If you could, please, show me the train of logic and follow-through from Prussian Germany in the 1820s to public schools in Austin, Texas, in 2003.
JTG: Sure. Prussian Germany is a dirt-poor part of the world. They have no natural resources at all. And yet, by 1850, they were the fourth leading economy in the world and, in 1871, they swallowed up all the rest of the Germanys and it just became Germany, even though it, in fact, was larger, greater Prussia. The three great wars of the last 120 or 130 years are all Prussian wars – the Franco-Prussian war of 1871, the first world war and the second world war. These are Prussian wars. Imperial Japan simply took as its constitution the Prussian constitution translated into Japanese. We’re talking big-time stuff here and we don’t need conspiracy theories to explain it. What we need to explain – really what gave this its momentum – is a real understanding of what the Darwinian theory of evolution delivered to the managerial classes of the planet. After Darwin’s 1859 Origin of Species, he twelve years later wrote a second book that was read and gasped at in the drawing rooms of Boston and New York and, really, all over the world. What Darwin said in Descent of Man was simply this: that if the good breeding stock, which was really a small fraction of everybody, crossbred with the common breeding stock – the evolutionary dead ends – what would happen is evolution would march backwards into the swirling mists of the dawnless past. Suddenly, responsible people, even in Austin, realized that they had the destiny of the human race in their hands, but they had to shut off 19 out of every 20 people alive because they were biologically inferior. American colleges began to teach courses on how to take control of evolution. I’ll give you just one [example] because I know our time’s limited, but this should bring a smile to anybody’s face who has a teaching license. At the University of Indiana, the President of the college – a man named David Starr Jordan, a legendary name in American higher education history – began to teach a course of his own devising called Bionomics. It was how to take charge of evolution and freeze out the inferior breeding stock. The device he hit upon – he hit on many – but his main device was to so stress the common population that they would be unable to adapt and they would fall by the wayside, and so would their children. Now oddly enough, you told me before we got on that there were a number of libertarians who would listen to the show. And good, I love libertarians and I have several awards from the Cato Institute. But I must tell you this: About five years ago, I got invited to a fancy hotel in San Francisco by the Libertarian Party, which was putting on the 6th Annual Bionomics Conference. I said, What an odd coincidence. So I attended, and it was difficult to know from the presentation – I made a presentation there – what they meant by bionomics. But at the final dinner, the mystery vanished as the speaker said that the tremendous stresses of modern life would take care of evolution very nicely and get rid of the dead wood. [Laughter.] Sorry I’m laughing, but, uh…
PD: Yeah, well, that’s a very libertarian principle, isn’t it.
JTG: Yeah, well…
PD: Well, ya know, we should stop right there, really, and get into this whole social Darwinism thing. I gotta say, for my part, that Darwinism as far as the explanation of living species on Earth, and science and all that, is fine. But when people try to apply that to social situations and to human beings, as probably far too many libertarians do, and have this ‘survival of the strongest’ and ‘let the weak die off’ kind of attitude, human beings make social Darwinism irrelevant because the strongest guy hires the second-strongest guy, and the third-strongest guy takes care of the poor invalid just because it feels good, and people fall in love with each other and procreate from all different sorts of races and classes and places of the earth. And so, the mixture… you can’t really have Darwinism in it’s classical sense among human beings because we learn and we make decisions with our wills, and it sorta throws all that Darwinian thought out the window in our case, don’t you think?
JTG: I must say this, Philip: that when I hear the term ‘social Darwinism’ – and I don’t mean you’re involved in the indictment I’m about to make – I know that I’m in the presence of a whitewash created by a number of powerful academic voices who wish to leave Darwin off the hook. The greatest and first of all the social Darwinists was Darwin himself. Rather than being a ‘scientist’, Darwin was one of a handful of the wealthiest men on planet Earth. How come not a single book bothers to mention it? Darwin was supremely wealthy, and he associated with kings and princes and people of substance. So when Darwin spoke, it wasn’t like a professor raising his squeaky voice at an ed. conference. He was talking to people who had control of societies under their hands. And Darwin was the one who said it would be immoral to allow this evolutionary dead end stock to crossbreed with the good stuff. You oughtta hear what he said about the Irish. I won’t say it because there may be women listening. But it is to fall on the floor laughing if you happen to be Irish. Anyway, Darwin –
PD: You’ve got me wondering now. I’m gonna have to look that up.
JTG: Please do. It’s Descent of Man. But Darwin wrote, I don’t know, 25 or 30 books, and in all the books, there are interesting pointed references. Anyway, notice what this does to, let me call them, the managerial classes. Darwin suddenly revives Calvinism, only he does it under the guise of a science. Calvinism said that every action is predestinated and that the people who are to be saved have already been picked before they’re born. There isn’t an iota of difference between that theological contention and Mr. Darwin’s biological contention – that you couldn’t do anything about your unfortunate biological position. And furthermore, he said – not once, but a number of times – that it was a waste of money to try. Now, put yourself in the position of a social manager. Whether in Boston or Berlin or Tokyo doesn’t make the slightest difference there. You have now been charged morally with keeping the bad stuff in its place. And that’s Darwin’s injunction. That is not some odd static that appeared in the message there. Of course, you can’t learn that if you go to school. You just can’t learn that.
PD: Well, so the American elite – the American managerial class, as you refer to it – then took Darwin’s suggestion and ran with it?
JTG: They did. They took Darwin’s suggestion and they ran with it. The first – and probably the most prominent and useful – undertaking was to find a place to store the good stuff. And so, suddenly, in a country that had maybe half a dozen elite private boarding schools, we have, between 1880 and 1910, an absolute explosion of these facilities, until we have something in excess of 300 of them by 1910. And if you trace the founding money of each of them, it will be some colossal industrial fortune or another. In other words, the people who own the United States took the message very, very seriously. Of course, if you go back three centuries they would have taken seriously that God picked them to own everything. But now they’re completely off the hook. So what we have – and I think you’ll find this amusing – is an explosion of elite private boarding schools. Now you may well say, Yes, but that’s held in check. Plenty of people from good public schools compete everywhere. Well, I’d like you and your listeners to consider this: George Bush, the incumbent President, is a graduate of Andover. That’s one of the top ten elite private boarding schools. John Kerry, who up to now has been one of the leading contenders on the Democratic side, is a product of St. Paul’s, which is probably either the first or second most elite private boarding school. Howard Dean, who we’re offered as the populist alternative, is a graduate of St. George’s, another top ten. Al Gore, who just comments on this election but was, after all, the Democratic candidate in the last election, against Andover, is from St. Albans, another top ten elite private boarding school. I hope somewhere in the pattern-collecting part of your mind, you’re hearing St. Albans, St. George’s, St. Paul’s – these are religious schools. Now both Roosevelts are Groton. Groton probably is the single most elite private boarding school. John F. Kennedy, another so-called populist, is Choate. Another populist, John McCain, who frequently is in the public eye, is a graduate of Episcopal, another top ten elite private boarding school. Does this sound a little bit odd?
PD: It makes me wonder, What knowledge do they get at their wonderful private boarding schools that the rest of us are denied?
JTG: Well, I happen to know. I’ve spent ten years studying what knowledge they get. But before we get there, I’d like to point out one other thing. The first Bush presidency is a Yale graduate. John Kerry is a Yale graduate. Bill Clinton was a Yale Law School graduate. Howard Dean is a Yale graduate. Joe Lieberman is a Yale graduate. Interesting, huh? And the most interesting thing of all is… you’ve got to pray, along with me, that John Kerry gets the nomination, although I think his goose is cooked. Why? Because John Kerry, the Yale graduate from St. Paul’s, was a member of the most elite fraternity in the United States, one that only takes in 15 members a year – the Skull & Bones society. And, of course, I’m being gracious in calling it a fraternity. George Bush, a Yale graduate, is also a Skull & Bones member. So we’d have the bizarre phenomenon –that’s why Kerry can’t get the nomination – of one Skull & Boneser running against another, and there are only 15 of these guys a year. I would say you would have to be pretty broken in your own private mind – I don’t mean you, but anyone listening – to think… I mean, the mathematical odds of this happening have to be astronomical.
PD: I’m encouraging every Democrat I know to support John Kerry because I think, as long as we’re gonna have one of these guys anyway, let’s just go ahead and make it Skull & Bones versus Skull & Bones and have a big contest.
JTG: Well, can you see the beauty, that suddenly millions and millions of people who would scratch their head and say, No, it can’t be true, I must be dreaming things – there wouldn’t be any way to avoid it, unfortunately. Yes, I’ll vote for Kerry twice myself, but I’m afraid that word’s getting around.
PD: Well, Mr. Gatto, since you went ahead and brought up the Skull & Bones, I think I should just go ahead and mention that, from what I know of Skull & Bones, they were founded in the early 1830s at Yale University on Hegelian principles of the end of history as, again, Prussian militarism. That’s the final destiny of mankind, to be just like Prussia. And the Skull & Bones was founded on that in the 1830s.
JTG: Yes, and drawn, really, from a similar association that operated – and probably operates today – in Germany. So, it’s a wonder. It’s a puzzlement, for sure. If you’d like to hear some of the things, though, that elite private boarding schools concentrate on – obviously there is social advantage, too, to the people who attend – but if you look at the academic diet of the best, it is a) impressive and b) absolutely free of any cost. That is to say that any family could introduce the same diet to its children. Any school could adapt the same diet without having to ask for a penny to do it. The burden of responsibility has shifted enormously from staff hands to student hands. We can start there. Probably the single most understandable thing these schools do that enhances future advantage – no matter the project you’re working on – is they give repeated exercises in the forms of good manners. That’s an undertaking based on a correct belief, in my opinion, that politeness and civility is the foundation of all human transactions. So the kids, quite bright, who I saw passing through my hands in New York City public schools were all being disqualified simply by their crude exteriors, which could have been eliminated in, I don’t know, 90 days, maybe a year there, and they would have been on an even footing. But instead, the schools scrupulously keep this information away from the kids. Oh, it’s true that some teacher, in exasperation, might say, It’s not gonna be this way when you go for a job! But to allow people to emerge after twelve years of drills and bad manners and crudity is simply to keep them in their place for the rest of their life. I hope some parents are listening and will start, the minute your show’s off, Philip… The next thing these schools do – and public schools don’t even try, although sometimes they pay lip service to it – is they teach the active literacies. Everyone knows what literacy is. But the active literacies are public speaking and writing. You have to be able to do those two things very, very well in order to recruit people to your side, to your cause. And twelve years of drill in ignoring these things – or putting them way, way down on the list of priorities – is enough to permanently shelve most people. There are other things. There is an emphasis on independent work, a total reversal of the student-teacher balance. The assumption is that each student is sovereign and each student will take the prizes of the lumps for their attention to task. The power of accurate observation and recording is legendary in these places – precision in observation and recording. Now, many of us heard from really kindly teachers, Get it pretty much right and you’re okay. And that probably is okay, in a hunting party or in a beer party. But the fact is that we’re constantly making judgments about one another according to the accuracy of our experience with other people. And most of us are so unreliable that we couldn’t be treated seriously, not even by our husbands and wives. So that is taken care of. There’s a habit of caution in reasoning. What do the natural enthusiasts do when they have the bit between their teeth of a new idea or a new acquaintance? They instantly leap to conclusions. That has to be bred out of the academic practice, and it takes time to do that. Another thing they aim for is the development of judgment, and then the testing of judgment. Now we all informally do that. When I say testing of judgment, I’m not talking about standardized tests, which absolutely, utterly measure nothing at all, not even your profociency in writing or mathematics. When I talk about testing judgment, I’m talking about things as banal and simple and everyday as getting a good haircut. Because you bet your judgment on a certain person, and I’ll bet you’d never ask a barber in your life what grade he got in barber college. And if you hire a lawyer, it would boggle my mind if you ever ask him what grades he got in school. It’s irrelevant. Something happened, let me say, eight weeks ago that froze the blood in my veins. There was a front page article in the New York Times, and it dealt with how Harvard accepts students in its freshman class every year. The dean of admissions – I think, a woman named McGrath, Deborah McGrath, but it doesn’t matter, this will be easy enough to check out on the internet – said that Harvard turns down four out of every five valedictorians who apply. But what stunned me was that my fellow New York Times readers read the same article I did, and didn’t realize what a cataclysm that was. So the grinds that work hard and get good grades have a one chance in five of getting into Harvard. When she was asked why, she said Harvard only accepts people who have significant accomplishments, and grades are not a significant accomplishment. Obviously the reporter ought to be strung up because the next question that should have been asked was, But what is a significant accomplishment?
PD: Yeah, well, don’t ask too much from a New York Times reporter. I mean, come on, let’s be fair.
JTG: Well, I do know this, that I’m on my way up to Cambridge next week to beard Ms. McGrath in her den and say, Hey, could you give me a list of significant accomplishments? Now, I know what they are. I know what they are from reading American history.
PD: Well, I think you would probably agree with her, right – that the grades aren’t what counts?
JTG: Well, they’re not what counts. But someone who wanted to help his or her fellow men and women would certainly say there’s no reason at all, by the time you’re 18, that you shouldn’t have ridden a bicycle across the United States, started a business and made significant money on it, I don’t know, hitchhiked down South America to the tip, written a book. Ya know, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at 19, and I think we’re still reading it. George Washington, at the age of 16, was the official surveyor of Culpeper county, Virginia, first guy to see new frontier land, bought himself 2500 acres of the best land with his meager income. Admiral Farragut, first admiral in the American Navy, was in charge of a war ship at 12 or 13. I’ll bet you some of your listeners have a 26-volume history of the world in their library – the author slips my mind, but it’s the big premium that the Book of the Month Club has used for 25 years to bring in new members. One of the two writers – and they’re married, the two writers – was 13 when she married her husband, and she began studying professional historiography. She didn’t copy notes off a board and wait for the test or the school dance. We have deliberately extended childhood six to ten years, and by the time you catch up to where you ought to be, for most of us it’s way, way too late because the natural time to learn has been wasted in nonsense.
PD: Okay, so what we have here is… well, you brought up a number of things when you were describing what they do right at the private schools that all our presidential candidates go to. And you brought up, during that, a lot of, I guess, the lack of those things at the government schools. You talked about, you know, the bad manners, kids who, I guess, basically just run in cliques and are always disrespectful and all that garbage.
JTG: Yeah, and they chase the wrong prizes. Test scores are what they’re chasing, if they chase anything at all.
PD: So, what I want to know is how this is all on purpose. Show me that this isn’t just, ya know, Oops, local schoolboards aren’t very good at running schools, but that this is something from the top down.
JTG: Sure. Put yourself in the position of one of the great industrialists, the people who began to open huge factories in the last half of the 19th century. Now, in Britain and in Germany, the common populations had already been broken to the role of proletarians. A proletariat – people without land, without any close connection to their family, to their religion, to their heritage, to their culture. Disconnected people are a proletariat, whether they’re doctors and lawyers, or whether they’re ditchdiggers and coalminers. So, in Europe, the major industrial nations – we could throw in France – were ready for the real industrial revolution, which came about when coal was connected to machinery. The machinery had been in existence, really, throughout human history, as child’s toys. And you didn’t ever have a dependable energy source. The wind comes, the wind goes. Water comes, water goes. Wood takes an enormous weight to produce a unit of energy. But coal promised efficiency in size and weight – and, of course, the successor to coal, which was oil, was much more efficient than coal – and the United States had more coal than all the rest of the countries in the world put together. The source of that information is the Encyclopedia Brittanica, 11th Edition. For those of you who just heard “Brittanica” and not “11th Edition,” you’re in for a big disappointment because subsequent editions of the Brittanica are heavily tampered with. But the 11th was boastful about what was going on.
PD: Very interesting. I like hearing about encyclopedias being tampered with and other such things that ought to be ridiculous fantasies. I mean, this is the United States of America, after all.
JTG: Oh, big-time tampered with. Let me tell you, the 11th – if you’re into making bombs – must have a 30- or 40-page illustrated section with step one, step two, step three, the mathematical formulas, what to do to make a nice bomb. Doesn’t happen after the 11th edition, I can tell you, because ordinary people aren’t to be trusted with bombs, just Donald Rumsfeld and company.
PD: That’s right. If you want to learn how to make a bomb, you go and take bomb-making class in the marine core.
JTG: Sure. But if you want to learn to make a bomb without the marine core, just buy an old set of the 11th Edition Brittanica. It’s just marvelous.
PD: Alright, alright. Just don’t suggest anybody that they ought to be used on or anything.
JTG: Hey. In Austin, where you had the immortal Texas tower and some guy climbed up there and picked off people in barber shops and pedestrians. I know it couldn’t happen in Austin.
PD: We don’t want anything like that. It just gives more power to the central government when things like that happen, so…
JTG: Well, I’m not here to tell you…
PD: Anyways, you were gonna explain how the industrialists took over education. I’m sorry.
JTG: Yes. Alright. The first problem – which, remember, didn’t occur in Europe because people had already been broken to factory work – was that we had a continuity of tradition from colonial days that said that the American dream was to have an independent livelihood. Well, corporations don’t work that way. They can’t work that way. You have to tell people what to do and count on them doing it. And to insure that you got the right people, you have to have incomplete people, who can only do a handful of things. And then you reward them – sometimes, if you’re not downsizing – for being incomplete. But from the word ‘go’, big factories in the United States, prior to the waves of immigration, would have 25 or 40 people in them. Why? Because nobody, except the losers, were willing to do that for very long. Up in New England, in the textile industry – this is legendary, by the way, what I’m gonna tell you, and it’s amazing to me that everyone in the country doesn’t know it – the girls, at their sewing machines or needles, were served tea regularly, there was an active mental improvement program, like a shatakwa, visiting operas. Young girls before marriage were the only dependable labor supply that could be gotten. Just think of the contrast between a kid who grows up on a small farm and what that person has to know versus someone who goes through twelve years of government schooling and becomes… you name it, it doesn’t really matter – a salesman, a desk clerk, an inspector. They don’t have to know anything – nothing at all. They have to be obedient, and they have to be able to read simple instruction books. And they absolutely have to have no interest whatsoever in improving their lot, the lot of their fellow workers, or the workplace. No one cares what they have to say.
PD: Well, I can definitely see that it would be in the interest of all the bosses in the land for all of us to be literate enough to read a page-long memo and do what it says, and not literate enough to read a 300-page book about what a jerk our boss is. However, though, I still haven’t been shown the connection. I see the motivation, but I want to see how they did it.
JTG: Well, let me continue, Philip.
PD: Well, I’m just saying, we’ve only got ten minutes, so I just want to make sure we get it in there.
JTG: Alright. You can not have a large, corporately organized factory unless you have a dependable workforce. And there was no domestic dependable workforce. Why do you think millions upon millions upon millions of Italians and Russians and Germans and Irish, etc., were brought to the United States? No, they didn’t come to the United States for a better life; they were brought here. Most of them had their way paid over. And when they disembarked from the ships, they were loaded on wagons and trotted around to different industrial establishments who would bid on this cheap labor. The minute they got some…
PD: I never learned that in school.
JTG: No, you wouldn’t have learned that in school.
PD: Sorry to interrupt, but I just had to say that.
JTG: But I don’t even like to hear in my own voice this tone of condemnation because what I’m trying to do is simply point out that there is no other logic than this. If you’re going to have an efficient factory economy with decision-making placed in a few hands, and you’re fighting against a libertarian tradition, then there’s no way to do it except to set up laboratories of psychological conditioning. And it has to be forced because no one in their right mind would go to these places if we didn’t have forced schooling. You drop the compulsion law tomorrow in Austin, and it will take about five years for a large cohort of people to figure out a much better way to do this; another five years and the uncertain will follow their lead. Give me 20 years and nobody except a moron would be in these schools. So we’re actually talking about a kind of social and economic logic that you don’t even have to read history to figure out. You want to confine people for the largest part of their waking day in an institution where subordination – infinite subordination – is the rule. You have no loyalty to these people. You can’t get people to do that unless you can flummox them. There’s an old Pittsburgh word. The interesting thing is that if you read the primary documents of the day – not anything that survives and is transmitted in public school; and they’re not hard to get ahold of, speeches and magazine articles in The Atlantic or Harper’s – these people are fairly open – not totally – about what they’re doing. Remember how we started this show, Philip. They’re justified because we’re talking about evolutionary dead-ends who can only cause trouble. The devil finds work for idle hands. Is it a surprise to anyone listening that the American worker works harder, much harder, than any other worker in the world? No one’s even close. Not even close.
PD: I want to get into the era of the Wilson administration and the Rockefeller General Education Board and eugenics and this whole mess of master planners of society.
JTG: But eugenics comes to us from Darwin’s first cousin, Galton. Francis Galton creates the word, travels to the United States a half a dozen times to make sure that the eugenical investitures are set up. That’s what the great private foundations are about – not giving away money, but making sure that this discipline is followed. I mean, the money they give away is the carrot-and-stick part of it. The Carnegie Foundation set up a eugenics record office and experimental laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, on the Vanderbilt estate, prior to the first world war. And by the second world war, let me tell you – this is a matter of historical document – the imperial Japanese government and the Nazi German government had come not once but many times to study how the Americans were doing it. Those of your listeners who have a research bent need to get ahold of the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trials for the doctors. Let me guarantee you that no professor at the University of Texas – well, maybe a few full professors – has ever seen those documents, even though they’re public record. And over and over again, the German doctors would testify that they were following American precedents. In fact, they called forced sterilization the Indiana Procedure. Remember, the first president of Stanford came from that university. The first head of national teacher training, for all practical purposes, Elwood P. Cubberley, was the star pupil of David Starr Jordan at the University of Indiana. He got the highest marks in bionomics, of all things, and he’s the head of teacher training at Stanford. He’s the head of the Cleveland Conference, which was like a hiring cabal for administrators in every one of the then 48 states. This isn’t documented in crazy books and conspiracy literature. This is documented in mainstream academic literature that people are unaware of. They’re unaware of its existence. Why? Well, ya know, they mow the lawn, they go out on dates, they listen to good radio shows like yours, and what they rely on – the television, the radio, the newspapers, the schools – to refer them to are these records. Uh-uh. No way. So they have their cake and eat it, too, Philip. They can do these things, they can do them more or less openly, and no one knows they’re happening.
PD: Simple collectivism is really all it is, that we’re smart enough – or, ooh, even better, genetically superior enough – that we ought to plan society for everybody else and all their natural right to life be damned.
JTG: Yes. This is a stage on the way to a world government. It’s an advanced stage in the way to world government – just as the so-called wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are. I mean, even oil is only an intermediary carrot to dangle in front of the enthusiasts, let me call them. I know that you’ve run out of time. Can I say goodbye to my son Jeff?
JTG: Okay. And I know him as Raven Gatto there, but he insists on traveling down there in Austin under the name Jeff. Love ya, kid. I hope to see you in January. And I hope to see you, too, Philip.
PD: Well, I hope he’s listening, and I hope he got to hear that.
JTG: A beer on Sixth Street. Well, if anyone knows Jeff Gorvetzian (sp?) down there, that’s my son.
JTG: University of Texas. Alright.
PD: Alright, well, next time you come down to visit, you give me a call.
JTG: I will. And I hope you’re gonna send me an air check of this because you’re a good interviewer.
PD: Hey, thanks. I’ll definitely send you a copy, and –
JTG: Do you have an address?
PD: And also, on philipdru.com, on the internet, this interview will be posted up in a day or two.
JTG: Oh good.
PD: Streaming audio.
JTG: Refer people to my website, where eventually they can read all my books free, but right now there’s about half of the big one, [The] Underground History [of American Education], up there, and they won’t have to pay a penny for it.
PD: And that’s johntaylorgatto.com. Three times the New York City Teacher of the Year and New York state Teacher of the Year, recipient of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for contributions to the cause of liberty, the author of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, The Exhausted School, A Different Kind of Teacher, and most recently – and most of it is available at johntaylorgatto.com – The Underground History of American Education. Thanks a lot for coming on the show today.
JTG: Thank you, Philip. Bye now.